BECHTELSVILLE, PA. – The first race of a brand-new season is always one of the most anticipated race events of each year.
When the green flag drops on Saturday night April 2 at Grandview Speedway, it will begin the 60th consecutive season of stock car racing at the one-third mile high banked clay raceway, all under the direction of the Rogers family.
The special Opening Night event will be the 5th annual VP Racing Fuels Bruce Rogers Memorial Money Maker, featuring Big Block/Small Block Modifieds racing 60-laps for $10,060 to win and $1060 to take the green. The race distance and race purse have both been increased, and are both using the number 60, representing the track’s 60th year of racing. The winning driver will also get a guaranteed starting spot in the September 17 Freedom 76.
The VP Racing Fuels Bruce Rogers Memorial Money Maker is run annually to honor the late track owner and promoter who helped his father build the track, then along with his family run it for over 50 years, taking it to national prominence before his death in 2017.
Taking a look at the history of Opening Day at Grandview, there have been 37 different drivers that have reached victory lane, and the story can be told in two separate chapters, over two different era’s of history.
The very first event held was a Modified race in 1963 won by Lauden Potts. No driver was able to repeat as an Opening Day winner until 22 seasons later, when Fred Rahmer won the 1984 opener after winning in 1982.
The list of names that won in the early years includes Dick Grimley, Red Coffin, Chris Skias, Bucky Williams, Charley Gilmore, Warren Mutter, Paul Fitzcharles, Ed Mumford, Dave Kelly, Mike Erb, Ronnie Peck, Mike Geiser, Francis Hardner, Pete Damiani, Russ Smith, Larry Solomon, and Doug Hoffman.
After this era, the list of winners became shorter, as several drivers began to dominate the winner’s circle on Opening Night.
Leading the list with the most Opening Night wins is Duane Howard, who has recorded eight first night victories. Howard is the 2021 winner of the Bruce Rogers Memorial and included in his win total is a streak of 4 in a row from 2006 to 2009. He also scored the wins in 2011, 2012 and 2015.
Jeff Strunk has six opener wins, the first coming in 1996 and he also won five out of six seasons between 2000 and 2006. Only a Meme DeSantis win in 2003 stopped his streak.
Craig Von Dohren also claimed six victories in the opener. Von Dohren’s wins, unlike Howard and Strunk, were spread out over a period of time. Von Dohren’s first win in the opener was in 1982, and followed it up with wins in 1990, 1992, 1995, 1998 and eighteen seasons later in 2016.
Other drivers with multiple wins in the opener include Tom Mayberry (1980, 1999), Davey Wenger (1987, 1988), Meme DeSantis (2003, 2013) and Stewart Friesen (2014, 2018).
Drivers who also took wins since 1985 include Dennis Thomas, Charlie Eckert, Rick Schaffer, Billy Schinkel, Kenny Brightbill, Paul Koch, Randy Bailey, John Willman, Kevin Hirthler, Matt Sheppard and Tim Buckwalter.
The last four seasons, the opener has been expanded to include Big Block Modifieds in addition to the track’s regular Small Block Modifieds running in a combination event. Winning the first four VP Racing Fuels Bruce Rogers Memorials were Stewart Friesen, Matt Sheppard, Timmy Buckwalter and last year Duane Howard. All the other openers were for the 358 modifieds except the very first race in 1963 which was a Big Block event.
In addition to the Modifieds, the Sportsman will also be a part of the Opening Night activities running a full program with qualifying and feature action.
Jared Umbenhauer won the first two for the class (2012, 2013), followed by Brett Kressley in (2014, 2015). Craig Whitmoyer was a winner in 2016 before the Hirthler brothers took over the next four seasons, with Brian winning (2017, 2020) and Kevin (2018, 2019). Last season it was Kyle Lilick grabbing the opening victory.
The VP Racing Fuels Bruce Rogers Memorial feature event for modifieds will qualify 24 cars to start. There will be no provisional or guaranteed starters added of any kind. Heat races will be lined up by a draw, consolation qualifiers will follow to set the field for the 60-lap championship feature.
This event is a non-point race, no pit license is required. There is no entry fee, however drivers are encouraged to pre-enter by calling or texting 484.256.4375, providing the driver’s name, contact information and phone number.
Track officials are reminding drivers and car owners to visit the speedway website at www.grandviewspeedway.com to print and fill out a W-9 form and bring it with them to the track on Opening Night. The W-9 form must be provided to the pit office to be eligible for drivers to draw for heat race starting spots.
VP Racing Fuels is the sponsor of the event and will have a VP fuel truck on hand at the track. Once again as was the case last season, there will not be a fuel truck at the speedway on a weekly basis, so race teams need to plan accordingly.
American Racer tires will be available at the track for this event. American Racer is also posting a total bonus of $1000 dollars for drivers who do not qualify for the VP Racing Fuels Bruce Rogers Memorial feature race. Four randomly selected drivers will each receive $250 from a drawing of all non-qualifiers.
Information and car rules are listed for the VP Racing Fuels Bruce Rogers Memorial Money Maker on the speedway website at www.grandviewspeedway.com under the Bruce Rogers Memorial tab.
Rev. Don Kerns will present Da Rev’s tailgate worship and communion service from 4-4:45 at the meet and greet area outside the main gate on April 2. Bring your own tailgate and chair and join in the worship service. Pastor Don will be on hand starting at 3:45 pm. There will not be a meet and greet with the drivers for the opener.
Race time on Opening Night is 6 pm, which will be the starting time for all Saturday night programs for the month of April. Pit gates open at 1 pm, grandstand gates open at 4 pm, followed by warm-ups at 5 pm. Grandstand admission for adults is $30, children 6-11 pay $10, and under age 6 are admitted free. Pit admission is $40 and again, no license is required.
Saturday, April 9 is set aside as a rain date if needed for the opener. However, if not needed, then it will serve as the first point race of the season under the NASCAR Advance Auto Parts Weekly Series banner for the T.P. Trailer 358 Modifieds and T.P. Truck Equipment Sportsman. The program will consist of qualifying races leading up to the 30-lap Modified and 25-lap Sportsman main events. Grandstand adult admission is $18 with children under age 12 admitted free of charge.
Since the 1960’s, Grandview Speedway has been presenting exciting wheel to wheel NASCAR stock car racing every Saturday Night starting in April and running through September, plus special events. Grandview Speedway is located at 43 Passmore Road, Bechtelsville, Pa. 19505, just off Route 100, ten miles north of Pottstown, Pa.
Information is always available at www.grandviewspeedway.com or on Facebook, or by telephone at 610.754.7688.